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Carrier Air Wing 7 Takes to the Sky

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS180827-23
Release Date: 8/27/2018 2:24:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Smith, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The squadrons of the mighty Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 join the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Destroyer Squadron 2, and USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) as a critical element of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, marking another significant milestone on the ship's journey to full operational readiness.

Though Abraham Lincoln embodies naval superiority through sheer size, what makes her truly powerful are the aircraft she launches from her flight deck and the Sailors she carries. CVW-7, known as the Freedom Fighters, is comprised of aircraft from eight different highly trained squadrons brought together to execute CSG 12's mission. Each squadron has its own chain of command, all working under the leadership of the Carrier Air Wing commander (CAG) Capt. John Bixby, Deputy Carrier Air Wing commander (DCAG) William Reed and Command Master Chief Steven Allen.

With over 1,700 Sailors from the air wing aboard, Abraham Lincoln is bustling with activity. This underway, the air wing is focusing on integrating with Abraham Lincoln's flight deck Sailors to perform cyclic operations, which entails launching and recovering aircraft at regular intervals. However, the primary mission of an air wing is to provide strike warfare.

"Since World War II, the United States has utilized the extreme advantage Naval Aviation brings to the fight," said Bixby. "The air wing combined with the aircraft carrier represents a distinct advantage in warfighting, as we can position our forces to any location, and strike in short notice whenever called upon. As many of us know, whenever situations arise around the globe, our senior leaders often ask 'Where are the aircraft carriers?'"

Like the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said in his document "The Future Navy," the US Navy's fleet, to include CSG 12, is the answer to any possible hostile situation across the globe.

"To address this rapidly changing security environment and achieve its mission, the Navy must provide a balanced fleet that offers U.S. leaders credible options, in places of strategic importance, at a relevant speed," said Richardson.

As a warship designed to house a full air wing and its assets, Abraham Lincoln is displaying her full potential. Sailors from the squadrons are finding their way around the ship and integrating with the crew.

"People have been very helpful; if I ask anybody questions it seems like people are more than willing to help,"said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Sydney Boudreau of the Sidewinders of Strike Fighters Squadron (VFA) 86, one of the early detachments who arrived onboard July 19.

As Abraham Lincoln continues to meet qualifications and CVW-7 becomes more proficient, the carrier strike group as a whole is coming together as a single unit, ready for deployment.

"This brings us one step closer to being fully operational and getting back in the fight of things," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Nelson, V-3 division leading petty officer. "It's another puzzle piece falling into place."

From the CAG to the airmen working on the aircraft, CVW-7 is becoming another part of the extended Abraham Lincoln family.

"Being onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln has been a truly rewarding experience, as I have never seen such a welcome mat rolled out for an air wing before in my career," said Bixby. "All personnel onboard have been a tremendous help in getting the Freedom Fighters of CVW-7 settled into flight operations and our daily routine."

CVW-7 is comprised of the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 Fist of the Fleet, VFA-86 Sidewinders, VFA-103 Jolly Rogers, VFA-143 Pukin Dogs, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAW-121 Bluetails, Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-140 Patriots, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 Nightdippers and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 79 Griffins. Welcome aboard, CVW-7!

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